ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Prakash Ambedkar Interview: 'Maha Vikas Aghadi May Not Last After Lok Sabha'

On 'Badi Badi Baatein', Prakash Ambedkar talks association with MVA, INDIA alliance, and BJP's 'fear mongering'.

Published
News
8 min read
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large

Video Editors: Nitin Bisht, Kriti Saxena, & Puneet Bhatia

"Caste will always be assertive (in politics). Political parties know the art of managing it. PM Modi played caste politics when it was suitable to him. Now that he thinks caste politics is not favourable to him, he is avoiding it. Every political leader does caste politics for his gains," said Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Chief of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) and former Member of Lok Sabha from Akola, Prakash Ambedkar is a formidable force in Maharashtra's politics. An ally of the Shiv Sena (UBT), Prakash Ambedkar clarifies that he is not yet a part of the Maha Vikas Agadi (MVA) alliance in Maharashtra, for which he mostly blames the Congress.

A closer look at the 2019 Assembly election results show that the VBA polled more votes than the NDA's margin of victory over the Congress-NCP alliance in several seats.

Though the VBA did not win any seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections or the Assembly elections, the party got 6.92 percent votes in the Lok Sabha and 4.58 percent votes in the Assembly elections.

"Split in political parties is a reality. But the bigger reality that is being ignored is the issue of OBCs vs Marathas. The bigger question is which way these two communities will sway," he said, as he commented on the latest chapter in Maharashtra's unstable politics — the Election Commission handing over the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to Ajit Pawar.

On 'Badi Badi Baatein', Prakash Ambedkar talks about the scope of VBA's association with the MVA, the reasons behind the cracks in INDIA alliance, and why he thinks PM Modi may not return as the Prime Minister.
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Lots of big events have been happening in Maharashtra politics since 2019 and the latest to join that list is the Election Commission giving total control of the NCP to Ajit Pawar.

The verdict on NCP is not surprising. There was a similar judgment for Shiv Sena. The Supreme Court made the first mistake . It said that the EC has jurisdiction to decide party dispute, even without considering the Constitutional amendment that had come in 1987. 

If we look at the 10th Schedule introduced in 1989, and the changes that were made to it the last time, I was a part of those discussions. If we look at it from a nationalistic point of view, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had drafted and got approved the People's representation Act, he hadn't made it compulsory to register a political party.

That issue was left up to the EC. He knew that after a period of time, the political parties are a symbol of unity. So, if they get divided, the country gets divided too. The issue to be examined by SC is the fact whether judicial powers come under Article 324 provision of the superintendence of control and conduct. 

The SC has not examined that yet. I had suggested the same during Uddhav Thackeray's case but nobody listened. I got a call from the NCP and I suggested the same - to determine whether there are judicial powers to decide upon the matter. If not, it becomes a matter for the civil court to decide and the EC decision can be overturned.

Whatever is happening in Maharashtra since 2019, they say there has not been a dull day in Maharashtra's politics. How do you perceive the current political situation in Maharashtra? 

Split in political parties is a reality. But the bigger reality that is being ignored is the issue of OBCs vs Marathas. The bigger question is which way these two communities will sway. 

You have Chhaggan Bhujbal on one side who is leading the OBCs but at the same time we see Mr Shinde speaking in favour of the Marathas. Both sides have said that nobody's reservation will be compromised and that they want reservation for both communities. How is this going to go forward?

What Manoj Jarange Patil is asking is that all Marathas be identified as Kunbis and since Kunbis are OBCs, all Marathas become OBCs. This is creating fear psychosis among the OBCs. 

It doesn't matter what the political leaders say, what arrangements are in place in the society will be as they are. The VBA had taken a stand and asked if the poor Marathas can be given economic reservation and they said they could do that without compromising on the OBC reservation. But the political parties did not listen.

0

Speaking of the MVA, you were at a meeting of the MVA last week after a long wait. Can we say that the VBA is now a part of the MVA? 

No. We were only invited for a discussion. From what the Shiv Sena (UBT) has told us, there are two camps in the Congress. One wants the VBA and another does not. So, the Sena (UBT) was given the responsibility to hold talks. We are only concerned with that. 

Whenever MVA will call us for talks and seat-sharing discussions, we are open to it and we will go. We have said that we have no ego about it. The society, economy, and the country, all are in danger. 

Why do you think there is a section in the Congress that does not want you in the MVA? Many senior leaders including Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan have said in the past that they are positive about having the VBA into the MVA.

Ashok Chavan is in favour of us but Prithviraj Chavan is not. He has a view and I don't want to say anything about that . He thinks this is a chance for the Congress to revive itself and hence, the Congress should go solo. 

This is the line and he has been advocating that the Congress should not have arrangements with anybody. These are the two views, now it is up to the Congress to decide what view they wish to take. 

Many say that the differences are because of your past conflicts with the party.

Even if there is conflict, I would just say that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. We have differences with the BJP since years. The conflict (with the Congress) won't stop. We think that the RSS cannot bring a reformation but the Congress can. 

However, there are some rigid people in the Congress party. Till the time those rigid people won't change, the Congress won't change. So, the conflict will continue but it is not a big deal. 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Do you think the MVA will last as an alliance?

This time, the political scenario is very unusual. It's like a Berlin Wall between the government and the Opposition in which there is no understanding or relations between the two sides, neither do the two sides talk to each other. And while trying to destroy the other side, the ruling party uses the economic angle and the economic wings are used for criminalisation. 

Narendra Modi is the puppeteer of it. If he thinks that his party benefits from keeping the MVA united, he won't bother them much. But if he thinks that the BJP will benefit by disturbing the MVA, he will definitely do it. Whether the MVA will stay united or not will entirely depend on Narendra Modi.

If the MVA stays united till the Assembly elections, do you think Uddhav Thackeray should be the CM face? 

I don't think there will be any unity for Assembly elections because Sharad Pawar wants his daughter to be the CM, Ajit Pawar too wants to be the CM, Chhagan Bhujbal is leading an OBC movement and also wants to become the CM. 

There is a race to be the CM and as the race is this intense, I don't think there will be consensus on one person. 

You don't think the MVA will stand till the Assembly elections? 

Even if it stays till the Lok Sabha, I doubt it will stay united after that or carry forward.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Talking about the INDIA bloc, there is a lot of conflict, back and forth, and friction. Nitish Kumar has broken away, there is conflict with Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. Lots of parties tend to blame the Congress for whatever is happening within the INDIA bloc. How do you perceive the cracks? 

When a meeting of the INDIA bloc happened in Mumbai, Ashok Chavan and CWC member Satpal came to meet me. There were extensive discussions and I had asked a question which I would like to tell you. 

I said that with Mallikarjun Kharge, you are looking to consolidate the Opposition parties and with Rahul Gandhi's march, you are looking to disturb them, threaten those political parties and that too before the Parliamentary election. 

How will you do that? How will you instill faith between the parties? They said that everything will fall in place but had no satisfactory answer. You can see the same happening now. There is an attempt to strengthen the party via Rahul Gandhi and consolidate the Opposition via Kharge. 

But these are two separate things, how can they go together? Hence, divisions within the INDIA bloc were inevitable with the kind of attitude the Congress has had after its formation. 

You have expressed doubts in the past about Narendra Modi returning as the prime minister even if the NDA wins the elections. Do you still stand by that? 

I still stand by that.

Why do you think so?

See, there are four states - West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Maharashtra. If you look at the UP elections, Akhilesh lost by a very small margin in terms of votes. So, there will be a dent there. 

As long as Nitish was on this side, there was 100 percent chance of making a dent in Bihar and in reducing the tally of the BJP.  My information today also shows that this position hasn't changed. Bihar might again return back to Lalu, it seems. Maharashtra - here they can contest up to 30 seats, at least 20 seats will have to be left to allies. So, the figure which they have to first process is 272 and then 400. 

Psychologically if you see, the figure of 400 is being given out of fear. Therefore, they are creating noise - we are getting 400 seats, we have the EVMs in our control, etc. These claims are coming after fear. So, unless the BJP crosses 270, Modi will not be the prime minister. 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

You think the Opposition has been able to counter the Ram Mandir politics well?

When we do weddings, we still ask a priest for a muhurat (auspicious time). When the four Shankaracharyas were saying that there was no muhurat (for the inauguration)and the people knew it too, why was the inauguration held? 

The people have understood the political motives behind it. Modi did not pay heed to Shankaracharyas - this dented his image and he did not have an answer for it. This neutralised the euphoria around Ram Mandir. 

He said that there are only four castes in the country - women, poor, farmers, and youth. When it comes to caste politics, there is a lot of momentum on both sides. How do you  perceive the caste politics of both sides?

Caste will always be assertive. Political parties know the art of managing it. Before saying this, PM Modi stood at the same place and called himself a member of the Teli community. He played caste politics when it was suitable to him. 

Now that he thinks caste politics is not favourable to him, he is avoiding it. 

Every political leader does caste politics for his gains. But the societal divide that they are trying to create now, it won't have any impact in my opinion. 

What message do you have for the Opposition ahead of the 2024 elections?

It has to begin from pointing out the economic blunders.  Their tag line of 'won't be corrupt and won't let the corrupt survive' - that has to be cracked. The Opposition parties just need to show courage. And the second is invading of economy. 

The INDIA bloc has all the data for it. They need to show courage to attack and bring forth the truth before the people. If this is done, all the claims of '300 seats, 400 seats, I will return', can be destroyed efficiently.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from news

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
×
×